Review by Jamie McNeil
The online digital comics/graphic novel store Comixology recently added Silver to its list of essential reads. Never heard of Silver? Then stop reading right now, and rectify that immediately because you are missing out on a superb mash-up of vintage pulp adventure books, supernatural horror and classic literature.
In Silver Vol.1 master thief and con-artist James Finnigan stumbled across a diary and a rune-etched silver bar during a heist gone wrong. The diary belonged to none other than Jonathan Harker, the man who stood against Dracula with Van Helsing. While detailing his escape from the Dracula’s castle, it also described a magnificent dragon statue comprised entirely of silver bars. The problem is that said impregnable fortress is only accessible during the Walpurgis Night, a time when all the world’s vampire clans gather to pay homage to their king. Enticed by the con of a life-time, Finnigan assembled a team of con-artists and misfits, among them Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing (the last of her line) and a ten year old boy with second sight. Their plan: board the Orient Express, infiltrate the vampire clans and con Dra’Khan (Dracula) and his brethren into believing they are vampires themselves. In theory all they then have to do is walk out with 500 hundred silver bars, but a well planned grift depends on emotional human beings keeping their own agendas out of the picture. Lillian Duvalier is a ruthless, vain and unpredictable vampire princess with sights on Dra’Khan’s heart. Finnigan’s team have rubbed her up the wrong way, but that’s the least of his worries: all their hopes are pinned on a failed aging thespian and a young inexperienced boy playing their parts. And then there’s Sledge – can she keep on task when the vampire who killed her family is nearby? All Jimmy wants to do is get his team out alive and retire to the good life, but how much is the good life really worth when it’s paid for with innocent lives?
Silver contains some of the most spectacular black and white art you will see, and Franck’s imagery has improved with every volume. Wonderfully ambitious, the blend of black and white is excellently balanced, fitting into each other like clockwork. Magnificent spreads span both one and two pages, and while digital copies accentuate the grandeur of Franck’s art, it can only truly be appreciated in hard copy. His vast experience as an animator and director (Despicable Me, The Iron Giant) has enabled him to stage beautiful cinematic visuals that are clear and crisp, like a stunning chase over snow capped rooftops. The only element that weakens Vol. 3 is a confusing plot point involving a quasi love-triangle that pops out of the blue and requires some knowledge of the source material. Otherwise, the dialogue still resonates and the great cast interact exellently. Yes, it follows tropes common to the relevant genres, but these are neatly subverted in a very entertaining fashion. There are few old school pulp adventure stories like Silver around in comics, and almost certainly none as cinematic or exciting. It’s a fun heist caper with a surprisingly engaging plot that makes it one of the most exciting titles available right now.
Initially it was speculated that Vol. 3 would conclude the series, but the Silver universe is growing beyond itself and revealing so much storytelling potential. Franck has also created Rosalynd, a companion piece delving into Sledge’s history, and with Silver Vol. 4 on the way there is still plenty more in store. Amen to that! As yet Silver Vol 3 isn’t listed on Amazon, so get it direct from Dark Planet.